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«A Maze of Death», Philip Dick

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Author’s Foreword

To my two daughters, Laura and Isa

 

The theology in this novel is not an analog of any known religion. It stems from an attempt made by William Sarill and myself to develop an abstract, logical system of religious thought, based on the arbitrary postulate that God exists. I should say, too, that the late Bishop James A. Pike, in discussions with me, brought forth a wealth of theological material for my inspection, none of which I was previously acquainted with.

In the novel, Maggie Walsh’s experiences after death are based on an L.S.D. experience of my own. In exact detail.

The approach in this novel is highly subjective; by that I mean that at any given time, reality is seen—not directly—but indirectly, i.e., through the mind of one of the characters. This viewpoint mind differs from section to section, although most of the events are seen through Seth Morley’s psyche.

All material concerning Wotan and the death of the gods is based on Richard Wagner’s version of Der Ring des Nibelungen, rather than on the original body of myths.

Answers to questions put to the tench were derived from the I Ching, the Chinese Book of Changes.

“Tekel upharsin” is Aramaic for “He has weighed and now they divide.” Aramaic was the tongue that Christ spoke. There should be more like him.

1

His job, as always, bored him. So he had during the previous week gone to the ship’s transmitter and attached conduits to the permanent electrodes extending from his pineal gland. The conduits had carried his prayer to the transmitter, and from there the prayer had gone into the nearest relay network; his prayer, during these days, had bounced throughout the galaxy, winding up—he hoped—at one of the godworlds.

His prayer had been simple. “This damn inventory-control job bores me,” he had prayed. “Routine work—this ship is too large and in addition it’s overstaffed. I’m a useless standby module. Could you help me find something more creative and stimulating?” He had addressed the prayer, as a matter of course, to the Intercessor. Had it failed he would have presently readdressed the prayer, this time to the Mentufacturer.

But the prayer had not failed.

“Mr. Tallchief,” his supervisor said, entering Ben’s work cubicle. “You’re being transferred. How about that?”

“I’ll transmit a thankyou prayer,” Ben said, and felt good inside. It always felt good when one’s prayers were listened to and answered. “When do I transfer? Soon?” He had never concealed his dissatisfaction from his supervisor; there was now even less reason to do so.

“Ben Tallchief,” his supervisor said. “The praying mantis.”

“Don’t you pray?” Ben asked, amazed.

“Only when there’s no other alternative. I’m in favor of a person solving his problems on his own, without outside help. Anyhow, your transfer is valid.” His supervisor dropped a document on the desk before Ben. “A small colony on a planet named Delmak-O. I don’t know anything about it, but I suppose you’ll find it all out when you get there.” He eyed Ben thoughtfully. “You’re entitled to use one of the ship’s nosers. For a payment of three silver dollars.”

“Done,” Ben said, and stood up, clutching the document.

He ascended by express elevator to the ship’s transmitter, which he found hard at work transacting official ship business. “Will you be having any empty periods later today?” he asked the chief radio operator. “I have another prayer, but I don’t want to tie up your equipment if you’ll be needing it.”

“Busy all day,” the chief radio operator said. “Look, Mac—we put one prayer through for you last week; isn’t that enough?”

Anyhow I tried, Ben Tallchief mused as he left the transmitter with its hardworking crew and returned to his own quarters. If the matter ever comes up, he thought, I can say I did my best. But, as usual, the channels were tied up by nonpersonal communications.


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